Saturday, October 27, 2012


This week, I returned to my favorite type of commute (by bike!) and started work at Wieden+Kennedy after a two and a half year hiatus. The welcome I received upon my return was so positive and flattering and humbling that I couldn't help but be excited to get out of bed and go to work every day this week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Half Dome Climb

A couple of weekends ago, my friend and I decided to try our luck for good weather and go to Yosemite to climb Half Dome. It was post season, so the cables on Half Dome would be down (i.e. off of their posts) and the wooden slats used for footing removed. If the rock had been wet even a little, the attempt would be aborted due to slick conditions. However, our luck panned out and we had perfect conditions on climb day. It was one of the more nerve-wracking climbs I've ever done and as such, it greatly built my confidence. Yosemite is truly majestic and beautiful and I'm so thankful I got to take it all in from the top of Half Dome. I love the outdoors!
Backpacking 4.7 miles into Little Yosemite Valley at 6,100', this was our camp for the first night. Two communal fire rings provide a chill, social gathering place for outdoor enthusiasts spending the night here.
With foggy conditions the day before, this was our first view of Half Dome in the morning of climb day
Duly noted!
Majestic terrain

Climbing up the subdome
Trees persevere and hang on here
At Half Dome proper and looking up to see the overhangs for the first time.  Yikes!
Just breathing while going hand over hand, Batman and Robin style
Taking a break on the side of Half Dome.  Wearing a harness in this instance is not to prevent injury, anchors are few and far between, but a last ditch effort to prevent death if a fall were to occur
At the top!  We had all of Half Dome to ourselves with no other people for an hour, another advantage of going post-season
Lunch amidst grandeur at 8,835'
Chilling on the edge of Half Dome, happy and content

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leaving Alaska

As the tires of the car speed down the road and the tree-filled scenery passes by my window, I say farewell to the Matanuska Glacier and MICA. Summer for Alaska is over and like most of Alaska, MICA has been winterized and is closed until next year. It is bittersweet to leave but I'll admit that there is a large part of me that longs for my home in Portland, especially after living in a tent all summer in a camp with no running water (I definitely have a new appreciation for the flushing toilets and running faucets around the world) and over an hour away from a grocery store. However, I'll miss having trees be the first thing to greet me as I unzip my tent flap every morning, the simpleness of camp life and the people that I've shared my life with for the past 3 months. People whose ages range from those in college to 50, with lots of us in the middle, who all share a love of the outdoors, sitting around a campfire instead of a tv and beer. I'll even miss Stubs, our resident moose, who gave me a start from time to time. And among all these things, I'll miss Alaska. Alaska, a state where you can easily find a taxidermist by following their sign on the road, but so mountainous and filled with wildflowers, rivers and glaciers that it has to be one of the most awe-inspiring states I know.

At MICA, we worked a lot of hours, especially during the busiest month of July but in the end, I learned a lot of life skills for which I'm grateful. I learned how to drive a jet boat, manage overwhelming amounts tourists and make an excellent cup of espresso. I even managed to acquire some ice climbing techniques, my new favorite outdoor sport, and have a better understanding of those rivers of ice we call glaciers.

So thank you, Don and Tina, for extending an offer to come work for you and thank you to my friends and family who are always supportive of my adventures throughout the world. Summer 2012 rocked!

Below are some final Alaska summer pictures I never got around to posting...
The new snow on the mountains is called 'termination dust' by the locals, meaning summer is terminated

Hiking with my friend, Caitlin, one night we came across these grizzly tracks and promptly started talking louder as we walked along

At the company party we got to shoot guns

Translucent leaf on the glacier

A little moraine bashing one day got me out past the ice fall of the Matanuska Glacier

The blue ice of a water cut channel in the Matanuska

Taking down the yurt, one of my many offices of the summer, as part of season close

My favorite sunset of the season

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Glacier Wedding

Ever wondered what happens when two glacier guides want to get hitched? Probably not but the answer is they get married...on the glacier!! On September 10th, Matt and Alyssa, 2 members of my summer family tied the knot. It was one of the best weddings I've ever attended. With crampons a recommended part of your attire and hilarious Dr. Seauss vows, we all had a little adventure, had a few laughs and helped Matt and Alyssa celebrate their commitment to each other. Much love!
The bride's party all wearing crampons and skirts (over thermals). Most of us had makeup on for the first time all summer too!

Walking across the Matanuska to the groom

The speck on top of the ice fall is the groom, waiting for his bride

Making it to the top, first things first - ice climbing guides getting that champagne we carried up on ice

Well, Don's job is done!
My favorite picture from the night

I will never tire of this view

Don and friends, my employers and overall super amazing couple.

Fishing in the Katmai National Park

Last weekend I had an amazing opportunity to visit my lovely friend, Michele, and be a guest at the fishing lodge where she is working for the summer on the Kvichak River. Michele and I met 5 years ago at the South Pole and have stayed in touch ever since. This is the inspiring woman who started my love of yoga and brought me mexican food and beer at the LA airport last year during my excessively long 5 hour layover.

MICA was kind enough to work with me on getting the time off for a weekend getaway and a friend let me borrow his car to get to the Anchorage airport for my 240 mile flight. I was excited to see Michele again, happy to sleep in a bed in a heated building for the first time since May and just loving the adventure of it all. And before I knew it, Michele and I were hugging and laughing in the doorway of the lodge. As part of package, her and I also got to go out for the day on one of the lodge's fishing trips. To our amazement, we were given a float plane and a guide/pilot for the day with just two of us! We flew all over that day, stopping at Brooks for some harrowing fly fishing (I say harrowing since there were also at one point 7 bears fishing in the same lake with us) and then stopping at a deserted beach to collect agates and lay on the rocks in the sun. I guess all I can say is that I live a charmed life and I'm one lucky woman.
Our "wheels" for the day

Walking out in waders to our first fishing spot

But it turns out, humans weren't the only ones fishing
This bear was chowing down on a sockeye salmon

This is like the Discovery Channel on steroids
This guy took notice of us but wasn't interested and kept on snorkeling for fish

When a bear comes within 50 yards, the rules are you have to stop fishing
Luckily we had a guide to tell us what to do

Michele caught a fish! It was like a bank heist getting it out of the water, getting the hook out, taking a picture and throwing it back in before a bear noticed (stressful but in a good way)

I'm now a master fisherwoman (notice bear hump in background)

My fish! Surprised I caught anything considering when the guide was giving me a fly fishing casting lesson I spent most of the time looking over my shoulder for bears

The famous Brooks Falls where bears stand, waiting for fish to jump

Our second stop of the day - a deserted beach on Nonvianuk Lake full of agates

It was such a beautiful and peaceful place, I had to sit for a while on the rocks in the sun

Back at the lodge at Michele's summer cabin, we were greeted by sunshine and my new best friend, Denali

My favorite picture of Michele and I
From South Pole Station 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alaska State Fair

Last night, my summer family and I went on an adventure to the Alaska State Fair! We finished up our day early at MICA and made the drive into town with enough time to see some shows and take it all in. Still on an animal deficit from my time in Antarctica, I spent a lot of time in barn but I did mange to save enough time to eat some fair food, visit the beer garden and get on a ride. Super fun times!
Log rolling competition at the lumberjack show

Big pig

Caitlin at the petting zoo


My new favorite ride...I laughed and screamed the whole time

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jet Boat Operations

Probably one of my favorite things to do this summer was guide our jet boat tours on the Matanuska River. It gave me a chance to learn more about the land around me and it got me out on the fast-flowing waters created by my favorite glacier. While on the river when not splashing about in rapids, I got to point out features to guests, such as the braids of the river, the blue-gray color of the water caused by copious amounts of rock flour, the lateral moraine from the last glacial maximum of 20,000 years ago when the glacier reached Anchorage and the poor porcupine that was stuck on the hillside for days. Sadly, our Coast Guard Licensed Captain had to return to college, so our jet boat operations ended on August 17th. However, being out on the boat, jetting up and down the river with views of the glacier and the surrounding valley and mountains will be one of the joyful memories I take home with me from this Alaskan Summer of 2012.
The Matanuska River and the glaciated valley (and 20,000 year old lateral moraine!) it runs through

Leading my last jet boat tour, made especially fun as it was with the parents of one of my summer family members